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It’s All About the User Experience Part III: Scalability and Improved Cloud-to-Edge Communication

As I mentioned in part one (It’s All About the User Experience: Offline Support), and part two (Responsiveness and Zero-Latency Data Access), the Cloud has been an amazing enabler, allowing the rapid launch of new and innovative solutions and making those solutions and services accessible and available world-wide and from multiple devices. However, while the Cloud enabled and principally solved the any device, anytime part of the equation, the anywhere part assumes good connectivity and service responsiveness to be true, which often it isn’t. The Cloud, therefore, actually and is unfortunately degrading the user experience, especially relative to today’s users’ expectations of instantaneous experiences that are always available at one’s fingertips, everywhere and anywhere.

In part three and the final part of this series on the user experience, we’ll focus on the notion of scalability and improved communication between the Cloud and the true edge – the mobile or IOT device – and talk more about the connective tissue between the two.

Many applications today function by requesting data or various data sets from the Cloud, either on boot-up or based on specific user action. The data may include application content or meta-data, images and related graphics, A/B UI testing directives, or even fundamental aspects of the UX itself. However, most companies that I talk to find that as they grow in user adoption and thus the number of devices, they encounter a fundamental scaling problem – the size and amount of data, the sheer number of devices and the fact that this data needs to be exchanged over and over again strains the system architecture. The key interfaces (the “head-end”) in the Cloud that communicate with the devices begins to fall over under the strain, and the overall system no longer delivers the experience expected by the user community without costly and expensive internal system upgrades. It’s a fundamental problem caused by success, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable, especially since the cost of scaling the internal architecture can quickly outpace the financial gain of increased users and usage. The key to avoiding this scalability problem and its ensuing impact on the user experience is improving the communication between the Cloud and the devices at the edge.

Solutions like Realm bridge the gap between the device and the Cloud and allow for unprecedented efficiencies as solutions and applications scale. Rather than send all the data to the device every time, Realm allows developers to cache data on the device — Realm will update it automatically when it changes, which fundamentally reduces the amount of data that gets sent to the device as only updates need to be sent instead of sending all the data every time. Additionally, for large data sets, delta data diffs can be delivered instead of resending the entire object. These changes can dramatically improve the efficiency and scalability of the system, reducing overall load at the head-end of the Cloud, and not just make the system less expensive to operate but fundamentally deliver an improved user experience.

In a world where most services have multiple options, delivering the best possible user experience at the right price and cost structure is critical. The current default mechanism of fetching ever-increasing data sets from the cloud every time simply doesn’t scale, isn’t efficient, and ends up negatively impacting the user experience. REST is not actually best – solutions like Realm can help. Come and check out why various companies are coming to Realm to fundamentally drive the next-generation of user experience.

David Ratner

After obtaining his Ph.D. in Computer Science, Dr. Ratner spent his career in various areas of mobility and communication, and has grown and scaled multiple companies through executive-level positions in Venture Capital backed, Private Equity backed, and Public companies. He currently serves as CEO of Realm; prior to that he was President of the Enterprise Division and Chief Product Officer for Syniverse Technologies, CEO of Openwave Messaging, and COO of SEVEN, among other roles. Dr. Ratner has international B2B experience across various verticals, and currently resides in Silicon Valley.

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